Politics, Putin, Who is to Blame?
Starting tomorrow, January 1, 2013 a new law goes into effect that will put the brakes on all international adoptions of Russian children to US families. The Russian Adoption ban seems to include any US adoptions in progress and will prevent the 46 American families currently in the process of adopting children from Russia.
After the announcements of the bill passing through the Russian legislative system, and Putin signing the bill, the newest collection of news stories focus on the heart wrenching stories of American families caught in the middle and their desperate desires to bring their “Russian babies” home to their “forever families”. The US “deeply regrets” the Russian adoption ban.
Not to be cruel, but we agree with the image shared by Land of a Gazillion Adoptees on Facebook. Boo hoo. This is not a reflection on the real people who are directly affected by the ban, but by the media promoting ONLY this aspect of the adopting once again.
Reasoning Behind the Big Bad Adoption Ban
Critics of the Russian baby adoption ban are finding fault with the reasoning.
- Human Rights Violations and Political Backlash:
It’s not that Russian legislators and officials are really concerned about the kids slated for foreign adoptions in the Russian Orphanages, but rather, the bill was passed as political backlash. An American law targeting human rights violators in Russia, the Magnitsky bill, has been credited for causing the Russian response. Putin, was said to threaten to “retaliate.”
- Abuse of Children Adapted From Russia:
Politics aside, there are many documented cases of children adopted from Russia who met new horrors after being international adopted and brought to the US. There is a substantial list of Russian Adoptees who died by the hands of their adopted parents. In AdoptionLand, we have been watching the horrific news for years, often carefully tracked by The Daily Bastardette. The mistreatment of children adopted form Russia were highlighted internationally in 2010, when an adoptive mother from Tennessee shipped her 7-year-old adopted Russian grandson on a one-way flight back to Moscow all alone. Further questions were raised when Russian officials tried to look into the infamous Montana “Ranch for Kids” and were denied. The Ranch, long on our radar, has been considered both a “last chance” lifesaver for adoptive families dealing with the destructive behavior of kids adopted from Russia and a cruel dumping ground for adoptees who cannot be “returned”. Currently the Ranch for Kids also faces licensing and legal issues.
It is also a little known fact that there is a whole underground network of adoptive parents and supporters who arrange for the illegal, under the table, transfer of adoptees, often international adoptees, from one family to another.
The Poor Russia Orphans
It is also fact that Russia does have an orphan problem, much like the USA has a foster care problem. It is very important to realize that Russia deals with their children by putting them in orphanages, while the US has adopted the foster care system to deal with the same issues of neglect, abuse, and lack of parents and caretakers.
In the U.S. 423,000 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. In Psychology of Orphans, published in 2008, claims the official number at the end of 2004 was 699,200 Russian Orphans. The number of orphaned Russian children is often estimate as much higher, but undocumented.
In the past 20 years, Americans have adopted about 60,000 Russian children, according to the U.S State Department. There is no disputing the fact that a Russian orphanage is NOT the place anyone would want to see a child raised in. Much like the US Foster Care system, the Russian orphanages are overcrowded, underfunded, understaffed and filled with kids who deserve better. There is also NO argument here that there are many, many good adoptive families who have truly improved the lives of their children adopted form Russia and are wonderful parents with happy children.
If we go back to the simple adoption equation, unwanted children that need homes in Russian orphanages + loving American families who want to be parents = perfect families, then the Russian orphanage ban is a very bad thing and Russia is a horrible country for using it’s uncared for children to make a political statement. But I do not cast the blame on the Russians or adoptive parents, I blame the adoption industry.
Blame the American Adoption Industry
In 2011, Americans adopted 970 children from Russia, making it third to China (2,589 in 2011) and Ethiopia (1,727), according to the U.S. State Department. The countries that provide the products for International adoptions in the US, have risen and fallen over the years, usually do to the amount of difficulty of adoption in the sending country. Adoptions from Russia started in 1992, peaked in 20014 and have been decreasing ever since.
For many years, Russian adoptions were very popular because of the genetic similarities of the Russian Children available. A US couple could obtain a child that was Caucasian often even with blue eyes and blond hair. While the numbers of US adoptions of China have mostly been higher than Russia, Russian adoptees also supplied a good source for male adoptees, where China adoptions were primarily girls due to the one child policy and cultural favoritism to boys.
In addition, while to cost of international adoption is high and the red tape testing, families adopting internationally were usually guaranteed that their efforts would be rewarded in the end with a child as opposed to voluntary domestic infant adoptions where a mother could change her mind and cause the adoption to “fail” after birth. The added appeal of an international adoption is that there is often no chance of an post adoption contact with the birth families. There are very few “open” international adoptions and increased difficulties of any possible adoption reunions.
The adoption industry promoted the appeal of these “benefits” to prospective adoptive families and between 45 and 60 thousand children were brought into the USA from Russia. While the cost to adopt from Russia varies, just basing the program fees alone ( the monies paid to the agencies), the adoption industry has netted between $900,000.00 to $1,510,000.00 through the adoption of Russian orphans.
That’s a significant amount of money and they often lied to get it.
The Lies Told to Adoptive Parents About Russian Orphans
Prospective adoptive parents who have adopted Russian children were also exploited by the adoption industry. The industry used their desire to be parents in order to get their hands on the adoption fees. This often meant gross negligence in providing information about the children the AP’s were desperately trying to save.
- Due to poor nutrition and developmental issues, children were often “passed” as younger than their real ages making them more appealing to adoptive families who wanted younger children.
- The effects of institutionalism, including RAD and other attachment issues, were often ignored, with the classic cravat ” all he/she needs I love”.
- Parents were not told of disabilities and issues from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, something that is rampant in orphaned Russian Children.
The result was that thousands of Russian adoptees were brought to the US to unsuspecting and unprepared families. The focus on post adoptive services is often grossly ignored by the very agencies promoting the ease and benefits of Russian adoptions. Meaning, once a US adoption is finalized, the adoptive family is on their own. They are left to find help and costly recourses for the children they adopted and often they are quite limited by their finances, available recourses and their own abilities. Meanwhile, as horrible as it truly is, many of these children ARE damaged beyond repair and have, by no fault of their own, destroyed the very families that were supposed to provide their salvation.
This is not to be seen as an excuse for the parents who have done terrible things to the children they adopted, but for the “normal” adoptive family, who adopted with the best of intentions, trusted their agency, and did what they thought was right, only to find themselves living and adoption nightmare, the fault is by the adoption agencies and industry who has failed both the adoptee and family.
The simple truth is, if the adoption industry had done their job of informing adoptive families of the real risks of adopting an institutionalized, FAS Russian orphan, then the sensational news stories about returned children would never have angered the Russian government. If they had done their job and screened potential adoptive families better, then we might not have read about so many Russian adoptees abused or murdered by their “loving” adoptive parents. If they provided low cost post adoption services to meet the needs to the community they helped create, then underground “adoptee swapping networks” and places like the Ranch for Kids, would not be needed.
But they didn’t care about any of that. They were after their one million plus dollars in fees and like always, in adoption, it’s the families destroyed that pay the price. Don’t blame Putin, don’t blame politics, don’t blame Russia, don’t even blame the abusive adoptive parents, and do NOT blame the broken Russian children.
Blame the money hungry profit driven adoption industry.